Winfree Bryant Middle School head baseball coach Jeramy Ezell jumped at the chance to get back on the gridiron this fall, as well as the baseball diamond in the spring.
Principal Becky Kegley approached Ezell about the head football position after Chip Sparkman resigned his coaching and teaching positions just before summer break. Ezell said he jumped at the chance.
“I’m definitely excited. It’s definitely different than baseball,” Ezell said. “It gives me something different to think about. That’s for sure.”
Ezell, 28, graduated from Friendship Christian School in 2004. There he lettered four years in both football and baseball under John McNeal. At that time, Kegley also worked as a teacher at Friendship and remembered Ezell as a standout when it came time to make her pick for Sparkman’s replacement.
“Things got going pretty quickly,” Ezell said. “The learning curve had to be short. I had to get on it and go.”
Ezell’s greatest amount of experience is on the diamond. After high school, he played baseball for Cleveland State Community College for two years before transferring to Lindsay Wilson College, where he played the remainder of his eligibility.
In 2009, he returned to Lebanon when he was named physical education teacher at Coles Ferry Elementary School and baseball coaching assistant at Walter J. Baird Middle School.
When Winfree Bryant Middle School opened in 2011, he became head baseball coach and physical education teacher.
Ezell said he’s had to jump right into coaching the football team with summer practice planned to start July 8 in helmets and shoulder pads before the Aviators’ first game Aug. 6 on the road against Coffee County.
Ezell said while the two sports are definitely different, one approach he’s taking is the same.
“We are going to be doing everything that Lebanon High School does, including terminology, on the football field,” Ezell said. “We’ve been doing that with baseball last year. We’re going to take everything they are doing and make it middle school appropriate so they will be ready when they move up.”
And with a new football coach in Sam Harp at the helm at Lebanon High School, along with an as-yet-to-be-determined baseball coach, Ezell said he’s going to take what he can from the high school ranks.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” Ezell said. “Obviously I haven’t coached middle school football before, so I can take a lot of Coach Harp’s stuff and implement it here.”
But it may take a little personality adjustment in between for Ezell in juggling the two sports.
“My personality is baseball-type manager,” Ezell said. “It’s kind of a low-key sport. Football is kind of a high-profile personality, so I’m working on finding my inner football personality.”
Ezell admitted he’s had a bit of a slow start in his new role as football coach, but he’s optimistic the team will do well this season.
“Coach Sparkman told me I would have 60 players, but I’m having a hard time reaching out to all of them,” Ezell said. “I’m sure that will change when school starts back. I will have a strong backfield; I do know that. I have had a couple of parent meetings, but getting the full roster in here has been a bit of a challenge.”